The Committed to Give initiative was founded for and works towards the encouragement of significant private philanthropy among affluent Israelis.
The Committed to Give initiative is a group of private Israeli social investors or donors, which have chosen to mutually encourage financial donations from personal wealth, for social purposes, each according to their personal viewpoint.
The ‘third sector’ and social organizations in Israel are thirsting for resources. While burdened with growing needs and minuscule budgets, governmental support is shrinking as are donations from abroad.
The roots of giving are deeply embedded in Israeli society, with abundant contribution of time (volunteering) and small-scale donations from the general public. However, substantial private donations of money are lacking.
The amount donated in Israel is lower in absolute terms to the amount donated in the U.S. The rate of private philanthropy in the U.S. represents 1.7% of the GNP, whereas in Israel it barely reaches 0.6%.
Israel has become a society with increasingly more wealth and capabilities. Private philanthropy is not dependent upon governmental policies and priorities, nor on the raising or lowering of taxes. It stems from a deep faith that it is possible to bring about change and move towards an improved Israeli society, to the benefit of its citizens. We need to take responsibility for Israeli society, the environs in which we live. This is an ethical commitment on our part. Donations from abroad, while important on their own merit, stress the importance and strengthen the bonds between the global Jewish communities, but we cannot, and should not solely count on these for the benefit of Israeli civil society.
We are troubled by the growing gap between the ability to donate and actual donations, and wish to bring about a critical mass of sizable private endowments in Israel, to augment the government contribution to the basket of social support.
We have concluded that to change the culture of giving among Israelis with means, and to move from random contributions to strategic and effective support – we need to overcome a number of obstacles: personal barriers, lack of knowledge and prejudice, together with public cynicism. We wish to change the paradigm and achieve three main goals:
1. To promote public awareness of the importance for Israeli private philanthropy
2. To expand the circle of private donors in Israel
3. To encourage effective and strategic giving
Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, showed that in 2012 the extent of donations to ‘third sector’ charities in Israel totaled approximately NIS 16 billion, of which
• NIS 8 billion came from abroad
• NIS 8 billion remaining originated in Israel – NIS 4 billion from corporate sponsorship, NIS 3 billion accumulated from the general public and only NIS 1 billion from large donations of over NIS 100 thousand by people of means.
The upshot of this is if we were to match the level of private philanthropy in the U.S., instead of just NIS 4 billion per annum – we would reach NIS 16 billion in private donations. According to research from the Boston Consulting Group published in May 2013, there are some 50 thousand families of means in Israel. Meryl Lynch’s wealth report from 2011 suggests that there are 10 thousand households in Israel with at least US 1 million in liquid assets.
On the basis of these figures, we decided to cooperate and act as a group to inspire people of means to participate in community activities and give their time and money to social causes. We call upon people with means in Israel to join the circle of private philanthropy, and to increase or even double their commitment.
Israel is a country of innovation. Each year we see many new additions to the list of the prosperous, yet few become recognized as philanthropists. We would rejoice in seeing new people engage in giving throughout the community in Israel. We believe that wealth derives responsibility and commitment from each and every one of us to act in the social arena.
Donating money supports social change which is of national importance. It achieves social innovation and initiatives. Experience has taught that many projects which began as private philanthropy accelerated wider changes and were eventually adopted by the state.